The first 90 days after alcohol de-addiction treatment are a difficult and challenging period. The alcoholic, after his or her stay at an alcohol de-addiction centre is highly vulnerable, trying to rebuild his life – facing life with renewed hope and fears. It is during these first three months that individuals are most prone to relapse, and therefore need the most support in alcohol addiction recovery.
The early days of alcohol addiction recovery are overwhelming to say the least, especially after leaving the safe and structured and environment of a drug or alcohol rehab. Some addicts fall into the trap of thinking that since they have spent time in an alcohol de-addiction treatment centre, they will easily remain sober. Drug and alcohol addiction are symptoms of a deep-rooted and complex problem – and alcohol abuse causes significant damage to the brain and creates dysfunctional behaviour patterns that are difficult to change without support. A supportive and professional alcohol de-addiction treatment centre addresses the underlying causes of addiction and teaches relapse prevention tools.
Tips for Avoiding Relapse in Early Addiction Recovery
Relapse to drinking can be avoided by following these simple guidelines, apart from the ones learnt during his or her stay at the de-addiction centre:
- Structure your daily schedule.
While staying in a drug or alcohol treatment centre, the individual is made to follow a structured day that may include some exercise, Yoga, attending sessions, sleeping and waking on time and eating regular and healthy meals. It is best if the same is continued after discharge. So that there are no surprises or lapses into an unstructured and unhealthy lifestyle.
‘Structured’ does not mean ‘busy’. It is best to keep it simple and stress-free. Remember, stress is a major trigger for relapse. Keep a list of to-do things and take up a simple job without trying to rush or stressful goals. A routine helps in maintaining balance in body and mind.
- Attend meetings and build a support network
An addict alone is in bad company! Get in touch with a 12 Step group and start attending meetings. A supportive and positive recovery community is critical to maintaining sobriety in addiction recovery. Alcohol de-addiction treatment centres recommend that the addict or alcoholic attend 90 meetings in 90 days. There is good sense in this advice. Even if you cannot attend so many meetings, try and attend as many as you can. It is an established fact that an alcoholic cannot get sober without support – and after discharge from an alcohol de-addiction treatment facility, the best support is from other recovering persons. And avoid old using buddies. They will tempt you to return to drinking or drugging.
- Take care of yourself.
While using alcohol or drugs, the bottle or drug is the priority. An alcoholic or addict begins to ignore himself and not take care of hygiene or health. In a drug or alcohol addiction treatment centre, he is urged to take care of himself by daily bath, dressing clean and fresh and maintaining hygienic habits. Daily exercise and Yoga also help in restoring the individual’s health.
Taking care of oneself also includes spiritual restoration. Meditation and ‘quite time’ are good habits and help in rebuilding confidence, self-awareness and positivity in outlook.
Avoid getting hungry. Take regular timely meals, as you did at the alcohol de-addiction centre and snack on healthy bits if you feel hungry in-between.
If you are troubled with negative emotions, such as irritation or anger, call your counselor or a 12 Step fellow member. Share.
- Set goals.
Though you may have been advised to take life ‘one day at a time’, it is useful to set short-term and long-term goals. Having goals creates hope and a direction. Apart from the goal of staying sober, an alcoholic or addict needs to set broader goals.
Discuss your personal goals with your counselor at the alcohol de-addiction centre who knows your personality and abilities. Work toward achieving these, so that your self-esteem grows as you reach each milestone. Setbacks are normal in any plan. Be prepared and take support and feedback from other recovering persons.
Your goals should be realistic and measurable. They should not be set based on past regrets or high expectations.
After your discharge from an alcohol treatment facility, life should take on new meaning and direction. Move forward, with care and support.
Life is worth it and you deserve it!
- Practice gratitude.
Gratitude is a very important attitude. Make a gratitude list – what are you grateful for. Normally, you would have done this exercise during your treatment at a rehabilitation centre. Do it again, especially when you feel low. It helps.
Research has indicted that those who are grateful are generally happier and healthier and that helps in addiction recovery. After all, we do not recover or exist on our own. From the alcohol de-addiction treatment centre to family members to other recovering fellow-members, each contributes to our life in such positive and wonderful ways. Say thank you to them!
After you leave an alcohol or drug rehab centre, try and use the above strategies to cope with life during your first 90 days in recovery. In case you do relapse, get in touch with your addiction counselor or centre immediately for help.
Remember, though addiction is highly relapse-prone, a relapse need not be the end of the road. A treatment centre like Hope Trust has an effective Relapse Program in getting you back on the track!
Get well, get life!